BOLINGBROOK – Bolingbrook Park District tennis coach Chuck Enge has an uncanny ability to help teenagers “discover their niche.”
A teacher, coach and life mentor, Enge has helped more than 325 high school student-athletes find “the right” college and career path, he said.
The former tennis pro is the CEO of A.C.T. Tennis Services and runs summer youth clinics at Bolingbrook’s Annerino Community Center and other area park districts. While coaching the sport is his professional passion, educating youth in various ways is his passion.
“To me, the sign of a great coach is someone that can effectively communicate with teenagers,” Enge said. “Teenagers are some of the toughest, yet most rewarding individuals to coach. But, if you have something they want and work to earn their respect, they will listen.”
Enge’s experience, connections and networking abilities speak for themselves.
For more than 50 years, the native of Onalaska, Wis., has taught English and coached tennis and basketball in two countries, three states and eight high schools – including lengthy stints at Downers Grove North and Riverside Brookfield.
As a result, he has visited more than 750 colleges and universities during his career and remains friends with many of the coaches and teachers, he said.
“With over 3,500 colleges in the United States, finding the right fit can be tough,” Enge said. “I have seen the athletic departments at both large and small universities and can give high school students honest advice about the best setting for them.”
But Enge’s reach extends further than the national borders. In 1989, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and taught high school for one year in Lillesand, Norway.
The grandson of a Norwegian immigrant, Enge fell in love with the country’s history, people and landscape.
After retiring from teaching in the early 2000s, Enge met with the Norwegian National Tennis Federation, who proposed that he intermittently visit and speak to Norwegian high school athletes and parents interested in a U.S. college education.
Since then, Enge has made 13 trips to Norway, leading presentations at the U.S.-Norway Fulbright Foundation, the Norway-America Association, the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad and the American Embassy Office of Public Relations.
After each presentation, he meets one-on-one with parents and students, gauging their commitment levels and informing them about collegiate requirements and standardized tests.
No matter the location or the student, Enge’s assessment goes beyond athletic ability.
“They don’t have to be the greatest tennis player in the world, but they need to be passionate about the sport,” Enge said. “When I speak with them, I am also looking for traits like trustworthiness, coachability and strong ethics.”
Enge plans to visit Norway again in October. In the meantime, he is excited to kickoff the summer camps at Bolingbrook and other local park districts.
“Coaching tennis, teaching and working with children is what I love to do,” Enge said. “I’m blessed to again have the opportunity to work with so many local parks.”